Toronto Bastille Day 2015

Toronto Bastille Day 2015

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Toronto sera aux couleurs de la France le 12 juillet prochain ! Venez célébrer la fête nationale française au square David Pecaut (215 King Street West), l’entrée est gratuite. Gastronomie, musique, pique-nique, et activités, cette journée promet d’être conviviale et festive. Un billet d’avion pour la France (Air France) et de nombreux lots seront également à gagner.

Wrap-up and a few extra tips!

Just a wrap-up and few extra tips on how to organize best an event:

– Be pro-active, anticipate as much as you can you never know what is going to happen so keep some spare time to handle the unexpected.

– Take time to prepare:

Set your objectives: what kind of event, professional or personal, your audience, the purpose, what a friend calls the final state of things! (It is apparently expression for the objective!)

Depending on the above, set a plan with a schedule, use a check-list, and staying flexible, keep track of what you do make sure things are done on time.

For the venue and decoration they have to be adapted to the style elf the event. Don’t forget the technical and functional aspect, they are very important and can ruin the all thing if not done properly.

Anticipate as much as you can. Choose carefully your vendors make sure you trust them.

Keep track also of expenses, they can go very high very fast. Ans something that may look cheap may be at the end very expensive.

Every time you do this it is different, that the great part. And if you follow a process, then it helps you but stay flexible and open.

Team spirit is also important you work with a lot of people, respect them and share information as much as possible. Trust the people you worked but check everything is made in a good manner and on time.

As I mentioned in my first article, look at details.

Choose 2 or 3 colors maximum in order to keep good taste.

Accessories should be added at the last moment and give the last touch!

Final tips, try to have fun, and if it is for your self do listen to your heart and if it is for others, then listen carefully to what they want.

Enjoy! It is all about having a good time!

Agnès

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Festivals

There are many kinds of festivals, music, film, country….I will the example I know best being French and having organized a team or board member several of them.

It is the Bastille Day Festival or 14th of July.

The first I did participate in as a coordinator I was 20. I feel this was in another life. I was just a trainee. That was in Krakow, Poland. I actually attended many Bastille Day Festivals in France but never organized one. On the other hand, when I was abroad I often was in the team organizing them.

It is the interaction organizing various activities like concerts, bals, having food suppliers, finding sponsors, orchestras or DJs, Singers, ….. A huge variety of things to organize. Usually it takes about a year to organize. Our comity is composed of around 10 members from different associations. We have interesting gathering finding solutions to creative activities but also to important details such as security, insurances…

For the first Bastille Day festival, we organized a waiter’s race with very little means. That was one year after the fall of the Berlin wall and the opening of Poland to Capitalist system. I had to find sponsors. I went through all the local shops in Krakow looking for products that could be used as awards for the winners. We made a banner with all the names of sponsors. There was no Internet or at least it was not used and we had to use our actual feet to do so. The phone was another option, but my Polish was weak it was easier for me to see people face to face as most of them did not either speak French nor English.

I was representing the main sponsor a French restaurant, I was Intern for and was working in partnership with the French Consulate in Krakow.

The interesting thing is today I am a board member of the Bastille Day Festivals, our means are very different, we don’t have much more money but our sponsors have more means as they are big International Companies. Most importantly, we have new means of technologies, Internet, social media to communicate on it and to find partners, sponsors and most importantly attendees. Last year Toronto there were more than 2000 participants this year we are hoping for 5000…

Here is the link: Bastille Day Festival Toronto in 2015.

Here is the link to the 2014 edition: 2014 Bastille Day Festival Toronto

One souvenir I have is 18 years, I was a friend of  the President of the Veteran Association, he had organized for the French army to send a military boat the ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ and its mothership ‘La Durance’. Great experience, they had installed 2 or 3 fighter planes.

On the Jeanne d’Arc were some official celebrations and then in the evening a bal was organized at the Durance. Great memories.

Organizing events can bring such great experiences!! You never know where it is going to take you!

Black tie gala dinners

 

A Gala dinner or event, is very exciting. Lot’s of fancy people in a fancy place, fancy clothes, that is fancy!

No, seriously, I enjoy it, usually there is a fairly high budget, so you may use your imagination and have possibilities for a lot of things as their less financial constraints.

The first black tie dinner,  I worked on was held at the Orangerie of the Château de Versailles, in France. Lucky me, it was held by the Friends of Vieilles Maisons Françaises, so great personalities attended such as the Rotschild family and over French high Aristocrats and some members of the 400 richest American families. 500 attendees with a private visite of Versailles Hall of Mirrors and fireworks at the end of the dinner.

Hall of Mirror – Château de Versailles

Fireworks at Orangerie de Versailles

I was coordinating as I was still young and not experimented. Great experience and I was so proud to sit and have dinner with those people, for me it was a new experience as a professional.

I was in charge of the guest coordination. Very interesting experience as I had to deal with VIPs from from different cultures.

The French knew exactly what they wanted, very demanding especially at that level no error is possible. But they know what they want and you are supposed to do but you’d better do it right the first time!

The Americans on the other where like kids. They asked a lot of basic questions on the travelling, which you would not expect from this kind of people as they have enough means to travel easily. On the other hand, great participants as they were really enjoying every moment and they would let you surprise them.

Such smart dresses and elegant tuxedos in a dream historical environment reserved for just for them.

That was a great experience.

Location! Location! Location!

Even if you don’t have the Château in hand, there many charming place, the main think is to create the atmosphere and make people feel they are in an enchanting venue!

Sorry guys I did not keep pictures for 20 years!

But I have one from the last one I organized as the President of Toronto Accueil. Less formal but very nice atmosphere!

Diner Gala Toronto Accueil

 

Workshops

Workshops are a smaller kind of event, therefore easier to prepare. Smaller venue, can be done at someone’s house or in a café or a restaurant to make things more simple. They can be cheap. The important part is the content.

Finding the right speaker animator is the important part. Any subject is good, it can be pleasure like spa, reflexology, nail doing anything (you can tell I am a women!:-))

But it can be professional, employment research, coaching, networking, leadership skills, anything just name it!

The idea is to keep it under 25 people so it is efficient. Also it is essential to be as interactive as possible. It should the application of ideas or almost a training, questions should be freely asked at anytime. Attendants can be chosen by qualifications, or just interest.

Workshops can be integrated in a bigger event like a conference, or can be done on a regular basis to have a follow-up the subject or even better a series of informative sessions and training.

Usually, workshops are part of a bigger organisation, like an association or corporate events or training.

Bring ideas, material, eventually coffee or tea and that’s all you need to start.

It is also a great idea to get started if you wish to launch your business. You just go out there show your products and if you are lucky and more likely good you will sell and well!

 

 

 

 

Conferences

Conferences are my favorites!

Organizing an event is great, lots of things to consider, details as I mentioned several times, decoration people you deal with, coordination…. Very exciting for someone like me.

Conferences for me have the added value that there is a research part, you need to look for the right themes, speakers, format.

For the theme it may be imposed to you or you may have to look for it. In any case, some research has to be made in the press, books but also meeting specialists. A lot to find out, learn and lots of discussion to prepare the right programme.

Also it demands to prepare marketing material, website and brochures. So some writing and management skills are required too.

For the speakers, finding the specialists is also a fine art. Not only do you need to find the right ones but also you need to convince them to come. If like me you have a small budget you may only get ones willing to speak for free. Somme more famous like Bill Clinton can cost up to or maybe even more than $100000 for a conference.

You need to think about it carefully before getting someone. I guess the return on investment must be good in this case.

I usually like to mix speakers from the public and private sectors, it gives an overall view of the subject as the elements at stakes are different. Some speakers more famous and some newer so it gives a mix of high level but also some novelty.

I like also creating a debate when feasible to enrich the presentations.

There are 3 main kinds of presentation.

Keynotes: One or 2 speakers maximum making a presentation usually 30min to 1h maximum.

Panels: One moderator introducing the speakers and making the flow is correct and 3 to 6 speakers. Each will be making a 5 to 10min presentation followed by questions. usually these last 1h to 1h30.

Roundtable: One moderator and 3 to 6 speakers. No formal presentation, more a discussion a debate that is orchestrated by the moderator, some questions can also be asked at different times. 1h to 1h30 too. This good to create a controversy and enrich a debate.

A mix of the 3 will give a global view of the subject and keep the audience active and interested. For each subject, the format has to be chosen carefully though. If it a new subject for example a roundtable is good as it will almost be like a brainstorming. Something that more in depth presentation are better with a keynote for example.

All of this is a great learning experience!